Obama's big, new counterterrorism plan is a hot mess

But there’s an even more serious issue at stake here: the revival of Bush’s Global War on Terror. Terror, after all, is a tactic — not an “ism.” It appears for different reasons in different countries. One size does not fit all. Not every terror-using organization, awful as the tactic is, constitutes a threat, directly or indirectly to the United States. But now the administration seems to be stepping out on a global fight. In other words, the White House is dangerously overreaching here, and using the wrong department to execute its overreach.

There are at least three reasons why this poorly conceived blunt instrument is a bad idea. First, it is not clear the U.S. military does this job very well. Seven decades of U.S. security assistance, most of it provided by DoD and the military, have never been subjected to systematic evaluation. So we have no idea, over time, whether any of these programs have accomplished the goals originally set out, whatever they were (and mostly they have not been set out at all). If the performance over the past three years of Iraqi forces and the likely performance of Afghan security forces is any guide, don’t expect stability, transparency, effectiveness, and a lack of corruption to spring forth from the barren soil of the CPF’s new partners. The track record is not great; now the administration wants to quintuple down on the existing counterterrorism security assistance investment.

Second, announcing a global mission supported by $5 billion in resources could very easily lead to the opposite of what is intended.